What Midlife Crisis?

When last I corresponded I was venturing into heady world of Dive Mastering. Time, work and the ubiquitous search for a mate has absorbed way too much time to have gained these qualifications to date. How does one prioritise 1) Diving, 2) Riding the Harley, 3) Driving the Porsche or 4) hitting the local singles haunts?

My colleagues have indicated that I must be in the mid life crisis zone 2 Harley's, a Porsche and NOW Tech Diving!!!! - To quote Dr Phil "What were you thinking?"

In November 2005 I planned a trip to the USA via Hawaii. A few dives in Hawaii, 2 weeks doing the Harley thing, dive with the Manatees in Florida then pop down to the Bahamas and do some diving. Unfortunately, no one told who ever need to be told that I was on the way and USA, Bahamas was hit with two major hurricanes.

Diving in Hawaii was an interesting experience, with shops having a real laid back style and most are not situated in main areas- relegated to industrial parks. The diving was good but nothing better than I have done in Oz.

In December 2005, with Fletcher in tow we ventured to Airlie Beach to catch up with my eldest (Jon) who is training to be a Dive Instructor. Although there a week we didn't have a chance to dive with Jon – seems he too was finding it difficult in prioritising, 1) Drinking, 2) Chasing Backpackers, 3) Diving, but Fletcher and I had the fantastic experience of diving the Yongala out of Ayr.

We were picked up at our Resort in Airlie and transported to Ayr for the dive with Yongala Dive and what an impressive operation it is. I do a great deal of diving outside my home state and I must say these guys really had their poo in one pile! Friendly staff, knowledgeable but also readily able to cater for the various levels of experience easily – often as an experienced diver it is excruciating to be dumbed down to the lowest denominator on a charter boat.

After a briefing at their renovated house/office we loaded up the Yongala Express, embussed in to the 4WD and took on the 4WD track to the beach and launching place – this in itself is an experience with one of the DM's telling us they had seen crocs on this very track.

The Yongala Express is a purpose built 10m rigid inflatable boat perfect for riding the waves ensuring a fast, fun and safe trip. It is an exhilarating 40 minutes ride to the wreck with speeds of around 25 knots. The boat, an ex Americas Cup chase boat, carries 12 passengers and up to four crew. It has an overhead canopy and side curtains to protect you from the spray and wind and there is also a marine toilet on board.

The SS Yongala sank in a cyclone on the 23 March 1911 remaining undiscovered for almost 50 years and was not positively identified until 1966. Lying in 14-28 metres of water and 100m long it is the largest and most intact historic shipwreck in Australian waters.

It has now become known as one of the worlds top wreck dives and certainly one of Australia's best dive sites due to the prolific variety of marine life. In fact the3re was so much marine life it was almost impossible to see in side the wreck.

We saw a 5m Bull Shark on the wreck, other sharks, turtles, Japanese, Austrians, Dutch, all sorts of fish life and some nudibranchs. I can highly recommend Yongala Dive if you want to get down on some rust, because these guys are great operators.
Since the Yongala I have been getting wet in that lovely warm area of Australia called Victoria, where one enters pick and returns blue! Fortunately Fletcher and I will be diving Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Southwest Rocks in June, so pray for good weather for us.

After all these years of diving in a wetsuit and being converted to a semi dry a mere three years ago (Lloyd Bridges didn't wear one - why should I?) I now find myself (embarrassingly) joining those ranks of divers fearful of water and have purchased a dry suit. So for all those guys/girls on boats who I berated or joked that you were not real divers…I humbly take it back, although I don't get the Dry Suit for a few weeks so until then you are still wooses!

This in itself maybe the beginning of the end…as you see, I have stated Tech Diving…yes twins, sling tanks, second masks, bungee cords, yellow SMB's and all the other black magic…more to follow on this as I progress down this mystic path.
Enjoy and stay wet…….

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